Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John – Crown Publishers, 2004
WarrenSt. John has written one of the funniest sports books I have ever held in my hands. As I myself am a dedicated Crimson Tide fan, he could not have chosen a better team to follow nor a better group of fans: the RVers who follow the Tide to every game and create RV cities in the parking lots of opposing teams’ stadiums.
But don’t dismiss this book as a just another title praising the Tide and their legacy. St. John explores the fevered devotion of sports fans: what makes us so crazed about the teams we dedicate ourselves to? Why do our emotional highs and lows revolve around wins and losses? Why do we hug a complete stranger after a win just because he’s wearing the same team shirt as we are? What drives us to follow sports with such devotion that we plan our lives around game schedules?
St. John meets a hilarious and unique group of fans who try to help him answer and understand those questions. There’s the Bices who live in North Carolina but motorhome their way to every game and fortify themselves with Bama Bombs – Maraschino Cherries marinated in pure grain alcohol. There’s the Show Chicken Man, who has to decide between RVing to a game or RVing to a championship chicken show. One might question his loyalty until they find out the headboard of his bed has Bear Bryant painted on it. Then there’s Paul Finebaum, the anti-fan who spends his four-hour radio broadcast crucifying the Crimson Tide and guaranteeing an endless parade of vitriol, hatred and death threats from Alabama’s most devoted fans.
St. John’s descriptions of the games are so well done that I felt as if I was sitting right there with him watching my beloved Tide gut the Gators in a shocking victory in the Swamp at Florida. I felt the ups and downs that he did and realized this author and I are kindred spirits. When I got done, I actually regretted being employed and, therefore, unable to ditch my job, buy a secondhand RV, and motor all over the south to Alabama games.
Having traveled in a motorhome, I laughed out loud at St. John’s first experience with washing in one: “I have my first RV shower – picture bathing with a squirt gun.”
In case you are wondering about the title, Rammer Jammer is a long-defunct campus magazine at the University of Alabama. Yellow hammer is the state bird of Alabama.
Both are part of our victory cry (for which I will substitute a losing team’s name):
Hey A & M!
Hey A & M!
We just beat the hell out of you!
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer!
Give ‘em hell, Alabama!
To be screamed loudly and vehemently during and after games!
If you’re not an Alabama fan (what is wrong with you?), you will still enjoy this book, still relate to that worldwide unity of being a sports fan, and still find plenty to laugh about as you read.
So Roll Tide and read on!